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Richard Schulze: Best Buy Co. Inc.

At the age of 11, Dick Schulze started delivering newspapers in St. Paul, Minn. Using tips from his newspaper route, he bought the first car any sophomore student had at his high school and paid for his own insurance, while paying his dad a small amount as his share of the expenses.

His dad was teaching him accountability (and, as a father, maybe trying to get a teenager to postpone the start of his driving). After graduating from high school, he joined the Air National Guard.

After his full-time training, Schulze became a sales representative for consumer-electronics companies, including Sony, Sherwood and others. As a representative for these companies, Schulze helped retailers to market their products and learned first-hand how to sell consumer electronics – on someone else’s dime.

After five years, he realized that a manufacturer could replace these representatives at any time. To control his own destiny, he decided to start his own consumer-electronics store. He borrowed against his house and opened his first store next to some college campuses in St. Paul.

From that one store, Dick Schulze created a juggernaut that is today’s Best Buy, with about 1,000 stores throughout the world. His initial “aspirational” goal was $1 billion in sales. With the right retail model (the third model in Best Buy’s evolution), Best Buy blew past this goal and kept on growing.

Current annual revenues exceed $43 billion, with a market value of nearly $12 billion as of Dec. 31, 2008. In the process of becoming the world’s largest consumer-electronics company, Best Buy eliminated nearly 5,000 of its competitors, including many global household names.

This is how he did it.

This introduction is excerpted from Bootstrap to Billions: Proven Rules from Entrepreneurs who Built Great Companies from Scratch by Dr. Dileep Rao. Copying or reproduction in any format or medium without the prior express, written consent of the author is strictly prohibited.

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